Eric Schneiderman, a Political ‘Champion of Women,’ Accused of Assault By Four Women
Two women say the abuse amounted to “assault”—and alleged that Schneiderman threatened to kill them if they broke off the relationship.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman now stands accused of physical abuse.
Four women, two of whom spoke on the record, described the horrific allegations in detail to The New Yorker. Michelle Manning Barish, Tanya Selvaratnam, and two other women who asked to remain anonymous, said Schneiderman repeatedly beat them and choked them. Manning Barish and Selvaratnam, who both said the abuse amounted to “assault,” allege that Schneiderman threatened to kill them if they ended the relationship—charges that the attorney general denies, per his spokesman.
In a statement, Schneiderman — a Democrat who's frequently clashed with President Donald Trump, and was recently charged by Gov. Andrew Cuomo with looking into how Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance may have mishandled allegations against fallen film mogul Harvey Weinstein — did not comment on the specific allegations but said his activities had always been consensual.
“In the privacy of intimate relationships, I have engaged in role-playing and other consensual sexual activity,” he said. “I have not assaulted anyone. I have never engaged in non-consensual sex, which is a line I would not cross.”
Manning Barish said Schneiderman was a hypocrite for championing feminist issues and denouncing Weinstein in public while allegedly abusing women in private.
“You cannot be a champion of women when you are hitting them and choking them in bed, and saying to them, ‘You’re a fucking whore,’” she told The New Yorker. “How can you put a perpetrator in charge of the country’s most important sexual-assault case?”
Added Selvaratnam: “This is a man who has staked his entire career, his personal narrative, on being a champion for women publicly. But he abuses them privately. He needs to be called out.”
Manning Barish recalled a night before bed during which Schneiderman allegedly slapped her “out of nowhere” and choked her. She says he slapped her so hard that her ear hurt for months. At one point, it began to bleed.
“The choking was very hard. It was really bad. I kicked. In every fibre, I felt I was being beaten by a man,” she said.
In a tweet sent shortly after the story’s publication, Barish said she felt compelled to speak out for the sake of all women.
“After the most difficult month of my life-I spoke up. For my daughter and for all women. I could not remain silent and encourage other women to be brave for me. I could not,” she wrote.
The story also details Schneiderman’s alleged encounter with a lawyer he met at a party in the Hamptons in the summer of 2016. The woman says Schneiderman, who had been drinking heavily, invited her to what she thought was going to be an after-party at another home, but it turned out to be the property where he was staying. There, the pair began kissing, but she recoiled when he became sexually aggressive, calling her “a dirty little slut” and “whore,” she said. The woman says she pulled away, at which point she says that he “slapped me across the face hard, twice.”
“I was stunned,” she said.
Schneiderman allegedly acted shocked when she wanted to leave. “You’d really be surprised,” she said he told her. “A lot of women like it. They don’t always think they like it, but then they do, and they ask for more.”
Looking back, the woman said she wished she had reported the incident.
“Our top law officer, this guy with a platform for women’s rights, just smacked away so much of what I thought he stood for,” she told The New Yorker.
Tanya Selvaratnam, an author and actor, said she started dating Schneiderman in 2016, and what was at first a “fairy tale” relationship swiftly devolved into a “nightmare.”
“The slaps started after we’d gotten to know each other,” she told The New Yorker. “It was at first as if he were testing me. Then it got stronger and harder.”
The violence wasn’t consensual or “sexual playacting,” she said, but "abusive, demeaning, threatening behavior.”
She alleged that Schneiderman tried to bully her into having a threesome—and said he would slap her until she called him “Master.” The physical abuse only became more extreme over time, she said, and she soon feared for her safety. “We could rarely have sex without him beating me,” Selvaratnam claimed. She ended the relationship last fall.
Just three weeks ago, Schneiderman blasted out a tweet praising “the brave women and men who spoke up about the sexual harassment they endured at the hands of powerful men.” He credited reports in the The New York Times and The New Yorker with the “critical national reckoning underway.”
In a statement Monday night, Gov. Cuomo, himself a former state Attorney General, said that "No one is above the law, including New York's top legal officer."
He continued: "My personal opinion is that, given the damning pattern of facts and collaboration laid out in the article, I do not believe it is possible for Eric Schneiderman to continue to serve as Attorney General, and for the good of the office, he should resign."